While Jacksonville doesn't have an art and culture community as vibrant as some other large cities, there are still plenty of ways to stimulate oneself. Jacksonville is home to a number of impressive museums with hours convenient for a school or family trip.
The Cummer Museum opened its doors in 1961. Located on the bank of the St. John's River, it's the former home of Ninah and Arthur Cummer. The art collection, which started at 60 pieces, now contains over 5,500. The Cummer is well known for its historical former gardens, the English garden and Italian garden. The museum is open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from Noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $6 for children, students and seniors. Admission is free Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
829 Riverside Ave.
The Museum of Science and Natural History (MOSH) is located in downtown Jacksonville near Friendship Fountain. The museum is state of the art, and one of the finest in Jacksonville. It aims to educate and interest children in the field of science, and features a number of permanent exhibits, including a journey through the human body and a historical tour through time, complete with historical artifacts. Specialty exhibitis rotate, and include "Prehistoric Predators," a display of life-like animatronic dinosaurs. MOSH also features a planetarium. MOSH is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's open Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
1025 Museum Circle
The Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA as it's commonly called, opened its doors in 2003. The historic building was once used by the Western Telegraph Company. MOCA features five rotating exhibits and art galleries, permanent galleries, an interactive children's center, a museum shop and a cafe. MOCA is a must-see attraction for downtown Jacksonville visitors. It's open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on Thursdays when it's open until 8 p.m. On Sundays it's open from Noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children, military members and students. University of North Florida students get in free with a student ID card. Admission is free for everyone during the Downtown Art Walk, held the first Wednesday of each month.
333 N. Laura St.
The Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum is built on the site of the historic Ritz Movie Theatre in Jacksonivlle's LaVilla district. LaVilla was a vibrant African-American community between 1920 and 1960; it was known as the "Harlem of the South." The museum features a permanent exhibiti detailing the rich history of the area, as well as a number of rotating galleries. Musical performances are also hosted in the theatre. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children 4 to 17. Children 3 and under get in free.
829 N. Davis St.
The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum group holds the largest collection of notable manuscripts and documents in the world. The group has nine museums across the country, including one location in Jacksonville. Items include the original draft of the United States Bill of Rights and Einstein's description of the theory of relativity. The Jacksonville museum features a rotating stock of items; check their website to find out which exhibit the museum currently has.
101 W. 1st St.
Jacksonville's maritime museum contains numerous books, documents and artifacts significant to Florida's "First Coast." The museum is open is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
1015 Museum Circle #2
The Jacksonville Fire Department dates back to 1886. THe Jacksonville Fire Museum documents the history of fire fighting in Jacksonville, including ample coverage of the "Great Fire of 1901," and the inception of the first "Fire and Rescue" department which led Jacksonville to be known as the "best city to have a heart attack in," according to the city's website. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free.
13406 Gator Bowl Blvd.
The Museum of Southern History features a 6,000 volume reference library with a concentration on pre and post-Civil War history. Notable artifacts include the American flag that adorned Abraham Lincoln's casket and a revolver carried by Joseph E. Johnston, a confederate general. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults and free for chidren 16 and under.
4304 Herschel St.